[box cover]

Ring Around the Rosie

That it took five screenwriters to assemble the script for this anemic haunted-house yarn is ultimately not surprising. After all, Ring Around the Rosie (2006) may eventually be the first horror movie clinically diagnosed with ADD. However, one still feels compelled to question the individual efforts of scribes Jeff McArthur, Alex Barder, Jim Suthers, Michael Tabb, and Rubi Zack (who also directed). For a film so generically uninspired, what did each of them do? With a final product this woeful one can only assume they were hired to make it worse. Surely there wasn't much writing involved from this cabal of first-time feature writers, as Ring Around the Rosie ineptly inhabits a series of disjointed, pre-existing genre clichés. Sadly, the suspect contributions of the "writers" is more compelling than any mystery within the movie itself. Gina Philips stars as Karin, who we are supposed to believe is some kind of hot-shot New York City publicist because we briefly see her leading a meeting in a high-rise office with a spectacular Manhattan view, but the character qualities one would expect to find in such a young, successful industry titan — ambition, moxie, self-confidence — are completely absent from the mousy, fragile, pensive, and easily-spooked heroine. Karin's many personal weaknesses make her the perfect target for whatever it is spooking her deceased grandparents' remote house as she and her boyfriend (Randal Batinkoff) prepare it for sale. Despite chronic nightmares mingled with fuzzy unhappy memories, Karin sends her beau back to the city and braves the spirits solo — without a car, or working phones, and only the leering, oddball caretaker (Tom Sizemore) for company. Her first night alone, Karin is chased through the house's blood-red hallways by a jack-booted phantom, so she welcomes the surprise arrival of her free-spirited younger sister, Wendy (Jenny Mollen), the next day. However, Wendy's flirting ways bring the worst out of the caretaker, whose not-so-subtle groping and escalating creepiness is soon complemented with rambling non sequiturs about Nazi doctor Josef Mengele. Just when you think Ring Around is the Rosie is going nowhere, you discover that it's not really going at all, and rather than attempting to wrap up all the aimless bluster with ham-fisted contrivance, Zack & co. just give up. It's hard to fault the actors when the director and her posse of co-writers have no idea what they're doing, and Sizemore (a.k.a. "The Thinking Man's Michael Madsen") injects a modicum of campy badness into the banality. But, for the most part, Ring Around the Rosie is lackluster and witless and can't even muster the momentum to go in circles. Sony's DVD release presents a good anamorphic transfer (1.85:1) with Dolby Digital 5.1 audio. Keep-case.
—Gregory P. Dorr



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